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Airports National Policy Statement

Volume 791: debated on Wednesday 6 June 2018


My Lords, with the leave the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made yesterday by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport in the other place. The Statement is as follows:

“I would like to make a Statement about the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport. This Government have a clear vision—to build a Britain that is fit for the future: a Britain with a prosperous jobs market and an economy that works for everyone. That is why I come to this House to mark an historic moment. Today I am laying before Parliament our final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement, which signals our commitment to securing global connectivity, creating tens of thousands of local jobs and apprenticeships, and boosting our economy for future generations by expanding Heathrow Airport. It is an example of how this Government are taking forward their industrial strategy.

Mr Speaker, you know that taking such a decision is never easy. This issue has been debated for half a century. My department has met with local residents and fully understands their strength of feeling, but this is a decision taken in the national interest and based on detailed evidence. In 2015, the independent Airports Commission concluded that a new north-west runway at Heathrow was the best scheme to deliver additional capacity and in October 2016 we agreed. We ran two national consultations during 2017 and received more than 80,000 responses. All the points raised have been carefully considered, and today we are publishing the Government’s response.

To ensure fairness and transparency, we appointed an independent consultation adviser, the former Court of Appeal judge Sir Jeremy Sullivan. Our draft NPS was scrutinised by the Transport Committee and I would very much like to thank the chair of the committee and her team on that committee for all the work they did and the thoroughness of that work. I am very pleased that they, like me and my colleagues in government, accepted the case for expansion and concluded that we are right to pursue development through an additional runway at Heathrow. We welcome and have acted upon 24 out of 25 of their recommendations. Our response to the committee is also being published today.

This country has one of the largest aviation sectors in the world, contributing £22 billion to our GDP, supporting half a million jobs, servicing 285 million passengers and transporting 2.6 million tonnes of freight last year. The time for action is now. Heathrow is already full and the evidence shows the remaining London airports will not be far behind. Despite being the busiest two-runway airport in the world, Heathrow’s capacity constraints mean it is falling behind its global competitors, impacting the UK’s economy and global trading opportunities.

Expansion at Heathrow will bring real benefits across the country, including a boost of up to £74 billion to passengers and the wider economy, providing better connections to growing world markets, and increasing flights to more long-haul destinations. Heathrow is a nationally significant freight hub, carrying more freight by value than all other UK airports combined. A third runway would enable it nearly to double its current freight capacity.

In addition—and this is crucial—this project has benefits that reach far beyond London. We expect and intend up to 15% of slots from a new runway to facilitate domestic connections across the United Kingdom, spreading the benefits of expansion to our great nations and regions. As well as new routes, I expect there to be increased competition on existing routes, giving greater choice to passengers. I say clearly that regional connectivity is a key reason for the decision that we have taken.

I recognise the strong convictions that many Members of this House and their constituents have on this issue, and the impacts on those living in the local area. It is for this reason that we have included strong mitigations in the NPS to limit such impacts. Communities will be supported by up to £2.6 billion towards compensation, noise insulation and improvements to public amenities— 10 times bigger than under the 2009 third runway proposal. This package is comparable with some of the most generous in the world and includes £700 million for noise insulation for homes and £40 million to insulate schools and community buildings. The airport has offered 125% of the full market value for homes in the compulsory and voluntary purchase zones, plus stamp duty, moving costs and legal fees, as well as a legally binding noise envelope and more predictable periods of respite.

For the first time ever, we expect a six-and-a-half-hour ban on scheduled night flights. But my ambitions do not stop there. If this House agrees, the NPS is designated and the scheme progresses, I shall encourage Heathrow and airlines to work with local communities to propose longer periods of respite during a further consultation on night flight restrictions.

We will grant development consent only if we are satisfied that a new runway would not have an impact on the UK’s compliance with air quality obligations. Advances in technology also mean that new planes are cleaner, greener and quieter than those they replace. Earlier this year, a community engagement board was established and appointed Rachel Cerfontyne as its independent chair. It will focus on building relations between Heathrow and its communities, considering the design of the community compensation fund—which could be worth up to £50 million a year—and holding the airport to account when it comes to delivering on its commitments today and into the future.

There has been much debate about the cost of this scheme. Our position on this could not be clearer: expansion will be privately financed. Again crucially, expansion must also remain affordable to consumers. We took a firm step when I asked the industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to ensure that the scheme remains affordable while meeting the needs of current and future passengers. This process has already borne fruit, with the identification of potential savings of up to £2.5 billion. I am confident that the process can and should continue, that further cost savings can be identified and that the design of expansion can continue to evolve to better reflect the needs of consumers. That is why I have recommissioned the Civil Aviation Authority to continue to work with industry to deliver the ambition I set out in 2016 to keep landing charges at or close to current levels. This will include gateway reviews, independent scrutiny and benchmarking of proposals, which I know are of paramount importance to British Airways, Virgin and the wider airline community.

I want now to talk about scheme delivery and ownership. The north-west runway scheme put forward by Heathrow was selected by the Government following a rigorous process. Since then, Heathrow has continued to make strong progress, having already consulted on its scheme design and airspace principles earlier this year. Some stakeholders have suggested that we should look again at who delivers expansion. While I will always retain an open mind, my current assessment is that caution is needed at this stage. Heathrow is an operational airport under a single management, and I am clear that it is currently the only credible promoter who could deliver this transformational scheme in its entirety.

I welcome the Civil Aviation Authority’s April consultation, which expects Heathrow to engage in good faith with third parties to ensure expansion is delivered in a way which benefits the consumer. However, this needs to be balanced against the need for timely delivery, and that is why my department will work closely with Heathrow to enable delivery of the new runway by the current target date of 2026.

Heathrow is already Britain’s best-connected airport by road and rail, and this will be further strengthened by future improvements to the Piccadilly line, new links to Heathrow through Crossrail, connections to HS2 via an interchange at Old Oak Common and plans for western and southern rail access to the airport. On 24 May, I met the industry and financial backers who can potentially come forward with plans to deliver the new southern rail access to the airport.

Even with today’s announcement, a new operational runway at Heathrow is still a number of years away. The Airports Commission recommended that there would also be a need for other airports to make more intensive use of their existing infrastructure and we consulted on this in the aviation strategy call for evidence last year. So I can confirm today that, apart from Heathrow, the Government are supportive of other airports making best use of their existing runways. However, we recognise that the development of airports can have negative as well as positive local impacts, including on noise levels. We therefore consider that any proposals should be judged on their individual merits by the appropriate planning authority, taking careful account of all relevant considerations, particularly economic and environmental impacts.

Furthermore, in April we set out our next steps, which will see us work closely with industry, business, consumer and environmental groups to develop an aviation strategy that sets out the long-term policy direction for aviation to 2050 and beyond, while addressing the changing needs and expectations of passengers. It will set out a framework for future sustainable growth across the UK, how we plan to modernise our congested airspace and use innovative technology to deliver cleaner, quieter, quicker journeys for the benefit of passengers and communities. Airspace modernisation has to be taken forward irrespective of the decision on the proposed new runway, and to do so we expect multiple airports across the south of England to bring forward consultations on their own proposals on how to manage the airspace around them.

Returning to Heathrow, the planning system involves two separate processes: one to set the policy effectively outlining planning consent, which is our NPS; and then, if this House votes in favour of it and it is then designated, a second process for securing the detailed development consent that the airport will require. The next step would therefore be for Heathrow to develop its plans, including details of the scheme design and airspace change, and hold a further consultation to allow the public a further say on the next phase of Heathrow’s plans and additional opportunities to have their voices heard. Any application for development consent will, of course, be considered carefully and with an open mind, based on the evidence provided. The process includes a public examination by the independent planning inspectorate before any final decision is made.

Alongside the NPS today, I have published a comprehensive package of materials that I hope and believe will enable Members of this House to make an informed decision ahead of the vote. It is a very comprehensive package that I hope will provide answers to the questions that Members will have. I hope that the House will feel that this scheme is crucial to our national interest and that we need to work together to deliver it, in order to create what I believe is an absolutely vital legacy for the future of this country. I hope that Members across the House will get behind this plan and support this nationally strategically important project. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and for providing the extensive documentation that went with it. Labour’s position on Heathrow was set out by my honourable friend Andy McDonald MP in the other place yesterday:

“Labour will consider proposed expansion through the framework of our well-established four tests: expansion should happen only if it can effectively deliver on the capacity demands; if noise and air quality issues are fully addressed; if the UK’s climate change obligations are met in their entirety; and if growth across the country is supported”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 172.]

Labour’s decision will emerge in due course.

The Statement says:

“To ensure fairness and transparency we appointed an independent consultation adviser, the former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Jeremy Sullivan”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 169.]

I invite the Minister to set out in a little more depth what the role of that individual was and whether it will continue into the future.

I turn to the Government’s response to the Transport Committee’s report. Recommendation 2 of that report says:

“We recommend that both Houses of Parliament allow the planning process to move to the next stage by approving the Airports National Policy Statement, provided the concerns we have identified later in our Report are addressed by the Government in the final NPS it lays before Parliament”.

Does that mean that we will have a debate in this House on a divisible Motion?

Turning back to the Statement, it says:

“Our draft NPS was scrutinised by the Transport Committee, and I thank the Chair of the Committee and her team for the thoroughness of their work. I was pleased that they, like me and my colleagues in the Government, accepted the case for expansion and concluded that we are right to pursue development through an additional runway at Heathrow. We welcome and have acted on 24 out of 25 of its recommendations. Our response to the Committee is also being published today”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 169.]

For the avoidance of doubt, I will tell your Lordships that the 25th recommendation was recommendation 22, which was about an incinerator. Does “acted upon” mean “We have agreed with the recommendation”? Clearly, it does not. The committee’s recommendation 19 is that there should be a seven-hour noise ban at night and the Government have responded by saying, “No, you will get only six and a half”. I have done my best to try to understand the response to the committee, which is vague and, at times, woolly.

On capacity, the Statement says:

“Expansion at Heathrow will bring real benefits across the country including a boost of up to £74 billion to passengers and the wider economy, providing better connections to growing world markets, and increasing flights to more long haul destinations”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 169.]

That makes it sound like thousands. In fact, the committee’s report says:

“The NPS states that the NWR scheme is ‘expected to lead to more long-haul flights and connections to fast-growing economies’. The DfT’s forecasts show that, at the UK level, the NWR scheme will offer one more destination overall to emerging and fast-growing economies when compared with no expansion”.

One seems a rather modest number.

The Statement touches on savings. It says:

“We took a firm step when I asked the industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to ensure the scheme remains affordable while meeting the needs of current and future passengers. This process has already borne fruit, with the identification of potential savings of up to £2.5 billion”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 170.]

Is this saving coming from the mooted scheme, which I believe Heathrow is consulting on, to reduce the length of the third runway from 3.5 kilometres to 3.2 kilometres? If it does, will there be any significant operational impact of that reduction? When, many years ago, I was privileged to be a co-pilot on 747s, 2,500 metres seemed enough, and certainly many of the operations presently at Heathrow require nothing like 3,500 metres. Given how expensive the M25 issue is to this scheme, are further reductions to the runway length being considered?

We increasingly appreciate the importance of air quality, as well as its fatal consequences. What is the commitment on air quality? There is a commitment in the Statement but there was another in the Government’s response to the Transport Committee, which said very solidly:

“No scheme would be allowed to proceed if it did not comply with air quality obligations”.

Can the Minister flesh out what those air quality obligations are?

On noise, once again the Statement is fairly bullish. It says:

“Communities will be supported by up to £2.6 billion towards compensation, noise insulation and improvements to public amenities—10 times bigger than under the 2009 third runway proposal”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 170.]

That may be, but Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd has recently proposed a cap of £3,000 on any insulation project. Anybody who has their house insulated against noise knows that that is a trivial sum. Can the Minister confirm that there will be no cap and that Heathrow will pay what it takes to achieve the appropriate levels of noise insulation?

It is a shame to see that the references to the community came right at the end of the document. It is the community that will be very impacted by this scheme. Towards the end of the Statement the Secretary of State said:

“Earlier this year a community engagement board was established, and we appointed Rachel Cerfontyne as its independent chair. It will focus on building relations between Heathrow and its communities, considering the design of the community compensation fund, which could be worth up to £50 million a year, and holding the airport to account when it comes to delivering on its commitments today and into the future”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 170.]

Can the Minister set out what powers the independent chair will have? Will she in fact be acting as something like a tribunal and able to direct Heathrow in disputes to provide the appropriate money?

My Lords, this Statement has an air of Alice in Wonderland about it. Governments have been considering this problem for 20 years but I am afraid that the question is out of date, and so is the answer. Hub airports are no longer the growth area in aviation; the growth area is now in direct long-haul flights. The idea of concentrating ever more development in the overcrowded south-east will, the Government say, benefit other parts of the UK as well. Yet the report by the New Economics Foundation, Flying Low, shows that a new runway at Heathrow will cost regional airports 14 million passengers a year. It will harm them, not benefit them.

The first lack of reality is on the timescale, since 2026 is ridiculously optimistic. The idea that you are going to build a runway as well as demolishing 800 houses, moving an incinerator and dealing with the public inquiry, with development consent and—I am fairly certain—with challenges in the courts from local councils suggests to me that the Government do not have realistic expectations in that regard. This is important because it will have a big impact on the ability for any airport development to help our trade situation. There is also a level of fictional economics, which is that the Government have assigned this a zero cost by saying that it is a private development. Can the Minister clarify her attitude to Transport for London’s estimate of a £6 billion cost to the public purse for public transport? Who will pay for the cost of the disruption to the M25 and M4?

I greatly regret that there is a very brief paragraph on air quality. We were hardly aware of emissions issues when this problem was first investigated. Can the Minister provide us with more detail on how this development will enable the Government’s compliance with international obligations? Will she particularly address the issue of surface transport access and surface transport within the airport?

This is supposed to be a national statement yet there is only one brief paragraph in it referring to anywhere other than the south-east of England. How do the Government intend to achieve their promise of supporting other airports to make best use of their runways? Is that a concrete promise of support or is it simply wishing them well in the process? Liberal Democrats believe that the Government should be using airport development as a springboard for the development and prosperity of the north and the Midlands. They should be spreading prosperity across the whole country.

Finally, I warn everyone who is interested in this to look carefully at the wording in the Statement, especially that on page two. All the reassurances are couched in weasel words.

“We expect up to 15% of slots”,

will “facilitate domestic connections”. What does that promise to other parts of the UK? The Government expect,

“up to £2.6 billion … compensation”,

to be paid. They expect not at least £2.6 billion, but up to that figure. They,

“expect … a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights”.—[Official Report, Commons, 5/6/18; col. 170.]

What exactly are the guarantees, not the Government’s expectations, on compensation and night flight bans?

My Lords, I will attempt to get through all the questions, but if I do not I will follow up in writing. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked about the consultation adviser Sir Jeremy Sullivan. He reviewed the Government’s consultation process and provided challenge to Ministers and officials to ensure that it was of a high standard, and produced two reports, which have been published. However, the role was on the government consultation, so it has now been completed.

On the Transport Select Committee comment on approval of the NPS, noble Lords debated the draft NPS on 15 March and the formal scrutiny period ended on 23 March. The proposed airports NPS needs approval by resolution of the House of Commons before it can be designated. This House has an agreed process for national policy statements, which is laid out in the Companion, and that is what we are following. Any further debate in this House will, of course, be a matter for my noble friend the Chief Whip.

On the Transport Select Committee’s recommendations, as the noble Lord pointed out, we agree with what it is seeking to achieve in 24 of the recommendations. Several of those recommendations will be addressed at a later stage through the development consent order, for example, or by other means, such as the regulatory framework. We have published a detailed response setting out our approach for each of those recommendations.

The noble Lord was right to point out that for long-haul flights there are net additional emerging market destinations by 2050, and emerging markets are a subset of the long-haul group. It is often more helpful to consider destinations served on at least a daily basis, as that frequency is especially important to business passengers. The north-west runway scheme would lead to an additional 14 long-haul designations being served daily by 2040.

Our analysis demonstrates that the scheme can be delivered without impacting on the UK’s compliance with limits set out in the EU ambient air quality directive. However, it is not for the NPS to set out the legal obligations in detail.

On community compensation, particularly for noise insulation, the current public commitment is to contribute up to £3,000 for noise insulation. That commitment will be examined during any planning process which follows the designation, if it happens, of the NPS. The NPS makes it clear that the Secretary of State will consider whether the applicant has put the correct mitigations in place, at least to the level committed to in the Heathrow Airport public commitments, before finally agreeing.

On community engagement, Rachel Cerfontyne has been appointed to the Heathrow community engagement board. She was previously at the Independent Police Complaints Commission—the chair has no powers, per se. The role is as more of an advocate. Although independent, she will obviously have connections with senior levels at DfT and will help to influence where necessary. I met her recently, and I believe she will do an excellent job of holding Heathrow to account.

I turn to the points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. On the question of hub status, we think it gives us the best of both worlds. A large hub airport can compete for transport passengers to provide the connectivity that the UK needs while at the same time enabling growth for other airports around the UK. On timing, obviously we will be working closely with the developer should the NPS be designated. We have had the timing independently and expertly appraised, and as things progress we will be working very closely on that. On costs for surface access, the applicant would pay in full the cost of any surface access required purely for airport expansion. If there are other benefits, the question of how those schemes are funded will be discussed.

To return to air quality, we have always been clear that development consent will be granted only if the air quality obligations are met. The environmental assessment and mitigations proposed by the airport will be carefully scrutinised, independently and in public, before any decision is made on whether to grant the development consents. The NPS outlines some of the measures that Heathrow may adopt to demonstrate these requirements, including the potential emissions-based access charge, the use of zero-emission or low-emission vehicles and an increase in public modes shared by passengers and employees.

On domestic connectivity, one of the reasons why the Government chose the north-west runway is that we fully recognise the importance of air services to everyone across the UK. The Secretary of State set out his ambition for 15% of slots from the new runway to be used for domestic routes, and we expect the majority of those domestic routes to be commercially viable. I know Heathrow is already in discussions with many airports across the country on that. We think that in the first instance it is a commercial decision for airlines, and we will hold the airport operator to account on how it has worked constructively with airlines and regional airports to protect and strengthen the domestic connections. Heathrow Airport Limited has already set out a number of pledges to support domestic connectivity, including financial support for the new routes, but if those measures do not meet our expectations, the Government can take action where appropriate to secure routes through the public service obligations.

I hope I have got to every point. If I have not, I will follow up in writing. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, referred to the Labour Party’s four tests: meeting climate change obligations, protecting air quality, supporting growth across the country and addressing noise issues. I hope the noble Lord and his party, once they have read through the documents, will agree that the revised NPS meets them.

My Lords, I commend the Government on finally making this decision. As one of my noble friend’s predecessors, albeit 26 years ago, I can confirm the remark that the issue has been debated for half a century. I was not there for all that half a century, although my noble friend Lord Spicer was there for part of it. The decision is the correct one. Heathrow is the only answer. It is all very well talking about putting other runways elsewhere but you need the hub connectivity that Heathrow will give. Whatever the noble Baroness on the Liberal Benches says about hubs, they are absolutely essential: a proper hub gives people in this country the ability to fly to more destinations around the world, and this will do much to enhance that, so I commend the Government on having made this decision.

I have a question for the Minister about the night ban. I declare an interest as someone who lives in west London underneath the flight path into Heathrow. I live slightly further away than I did before but I am still affected by it. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, queried the word “expect” with regard to a six and a half hour ban. I hope we will be getting such a ban, if not a longer one, and that it really will be a ban. At the moment you are not allowed to fly within certain hours, except that there can be half a dozen or so in the morning. When they start coming in at 5 am, that is what becomes really irritating. I hope my noble friend can confirm that this will be a real ban and that there will be no flights, even emergency flights, between those hours.

I thank my noble friend for his support on this decision. As he said, he is a predecessor of mine, and I am sure that he was discussing it then, so it is great to take this step of laying the final national policy statement. We need to act now. Our latest analysis shows that all five London airports will be full by the mid-2030s, and we are losing ground to our competitor hubs in Europe and the Middle East.

The night flight ban will be at least a six and a half hour ban on all scheduled flights. It could be more than that, with predictable respite. Once designated, that will go to further consultation with local communities to agree the exact detail.

My 20-year campaign to expand Heathrow covered the period when I was a Member of Parliament for two west London constituencies. Of course, some people are vocally against it. I have to say that they are frequently the people who fly more often, which came out in a number of constituency meetings that I did in the area. An awful lot of people who do not speak out clearly are desperately in favour because of high-quality jobs. When I spoke in schools in the area, teachers were often against it, for understandable reasons—because of the noise—but when you asked the children how many of them had family or friends who worked at the airport or in an airport-associated job, nearly all of them did. Please ensure that we take account of the needs of those local people, too.

The regions are incredibly important. We cannot expect the regions of England to do well unless they are linked into the hub airport. If all the other countries have hub airports and are developing them, there is a common-sense question: why is that? The common-sense answer is because you need interchange—interchange for Scotland, Wales, and the south-west of England, which is often underestimated. They need links too. Please will the Minister pursue this and take into account the crucial importance of jobs in south-west London and related areas?

I thank the noble Lord for his supportive comments. This expansion will absolutely deliver jobs for the local area: I think that the latest figure is 114,000 and 5,000 apprenticeships, which will obviously be welcome for young people. We have not underestimated the potential impact of this decision on local communities, or the importance of listening to them and doing it in the right way. I personally met some of the local groups which have been campaigning hard on this issue and saw at first-hand their strength of feeling. The NPS commits up to £2.6 billion towards compensation, noise insulation and improvements to public communities but, as the noble Lord said, expansion has support from local communities as well as opposition.

My Lords, I declare an interest, in that I live under the flight path and belong to many of the community organisations that the Minister will have met. I am appalled by this proposal, as will be the majority of the community where I live and the surrounding communities. Will the Minister confirm that it is clear in the report that daytime respite periods will be shorter under this plan? It says in parenthesis that they will be cut. Perhaps she will confirm that. That matters because there may be money for insulation, but that is not very useful for children who want to play outside or for people who want to walk outside or sit in a garden. Perhaps she will tell us the number of hours of peace that we are about to lose every day.

To answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, airlines will be permitted to run a full service from 5.30 in the morning under the new plan. The night-time ban is six and a half hours: 11 pm to 5.30 in the morning. Currently, they cannot run a full service until 6 am. That is done because Asian Governments are concerned that their residents are being disturbed by departures, so instead our local residents are to be disturbed by arrivals.

Will the Minister confirm what is clear to me from the report: that the required noise level that the airport has to achieve is that in existence in 2013, giving up five years of improvement? All the surface transport mitigations listed are those under way or in place to deal with current congestion, current overcrowding, the air quality problems of the current airport, and the forecast growth in demand in the local community. There is no additionality to deal with 41 million people, a doubling of freight and no indication of who will pay.

On air quality, there are just vague aspirations without any guarantees, clarity or targets. Will the Minister confirm that?

My Lords, on the respite periods, the final flight paths obviously have not been confirmed yet, and I understand why there is frustration about that. The proposals to change airspace design have to follow the new airspace change process, which will be done in the coming years, in close consultation with the community.

On the 6.5 hour ban, it has not been decided between periods of 11 pm and 5.30 am exactly where that will go. As I say, that will also be done in consultation with local communities. We think that there could be more respite than that, and predictable respite too. Obviously, with a third runway, there will be more aircraft movements in the sky, so I acknowledge that there will be more noise. We have set out a comprehensive package of compensation, which includes noise insulation and improvements to public amenities.

On the surface access point, there is lots of investment to come on that. I would mention Crossrail, HS2 and Southern Rail and western rail access. There are clear commitments to 50% of public transport use by 2030 and 55% by 2040. Where that is directly to deal with expansion, it will be paid for by the developer.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement, which talks about ensuring timely delivery. One aspect of this will be a large number of legal challenges. What powers do the Government have, if any, to ensure after due process that this very expensive and ambitious programme will continue and be completed on time?

My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord is quite right to point out that there may well be judicial reviews around this. Obviously, we are expecting that. The Airports Commission asks that the runway is delivered by 2030. As I said, Heathrow is working to 2026, and we have independent appraisals on that and will work closely with it. We will of course follow correct judicial processes on this, but we will work with Heathrow to get this delivered for 2026, as I say.

My Lords, what consideration is being given to using Manston Airport on the Isle of Thanet, particularly for freight, to relieve both Heathrow and Gatwick? I know that it is some way from London, but it is easily reached by road and rail, both of which run alongside the airport, which has the longest runway in Europe. Aircraft can go straight out over the North Sea and down the Dover Strait and into the English Channel.

My Lords, I know that there are some very interesting proposals around Manston Airport. One of the reasons why we chose Heathrow was because of its freight capacity and the expansion will deliver doubling of freight on that. Alongside that, we are already full at Heathrow, and expect to be full at other airports very soon. Alongside the laying of the final NPS, we announced the policy on making best use of existing capacity to ensure that other airports can do that.

My Lords, it is extremely good news that this project is finally going to go ahead but I fear that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, said—and I think that the Minister has already acknowledged the point—we may run into quite a lot of obstacles and sources of delay. If we do, I hope that the Government will consider proceeding by some accelerated legislative process to carry this through without undue delay. Undue delays in infrastructure projects are surely a great national economic handicap which we have had for some time, but will the Minister agree that this is a particularly egregious case? We have had delays of at least eight years, due to indecision, vacillation and the setting up of quite otiose inquiries, when their results were already known in advance, merely to delay the outbreak of conflict within the Conservative Party and disputes between that party and the House of Commons. That is a very bad example. I think that future generations and the international world as a whole would have noticed that. Does she accept that, had the last Labour Government won the 2010 general election—I declare my interest: I served in that Government, but I had nothing whatever to do with civil aviation or airports—this new runway would have already been built?

My Lords, I welcome the noble Lord’s welcoming of the NPS. He is quite right to point out that this has taken some time and has been the subject of many conversations, which is why we were so pleased to be able to lay the final NPS yesterday. We absolutely need to get on with this. As to whether this would have happened should the Labour Government have won in 2010, I am sure a lot of things would be different, but I am not sure whether the runway would now be built.

My Lords, I do not think that this project will affect RAF Northolt; it obviously is a long-standing RAF airport and the laying of the NPS and the future designations should not affect that.

My Lords, at the end of the terminal 5 public inquiry, in which I was involved, we were promised that there would be no further expansion of Heathrow Airport, and especially not a third runway there. In view of the fact that the Minister has just told us that there will be huge expansion of capacity at Heathrow, can she tell us how long we have to wait before there will be plans for a terminal 6 or even a terminal 7 at Heathrow? Will there be any end to the expansion there? Finally, can she relay a message to the Foreign Secretary that I am very willing to lay down with him at any time, providing it is in front of a bulldozer?

On further expansion at Heathrow, I acknowledge that the third runway has been talked about for some time. The Conservative manifesto in 2017 set out our support of it and that we look to proceed on it. I will pass that message on to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary.

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that I have mixed feelings about this decision? Having been the House bore on the subject for many years, of course I am pleased that we have moved with greater certainty towards a final decision on this matter, but it has come very late. When I was Minister for Aviation in the 1980s, Heathrow was by far and away the busiest international airport in the world, whereas now it is well down the pecking order. My noble friend has today used the words “Heathrow is full” and then, when having to be asked what we do about that, rather mumbled, I am afraid, that we will look at other airports. The fact is that if we are to have enough capacity in the late 2020s in this country, we have to build a runway of the size of those at Heathrow at every single one of our London-based airports over the next 10 years. This has not even barely begun to strike us. The decision is good news in so far as it is happening, but it is terribly late and we will have to do a lot of catching up now.

I thank my noble friend for his support. I again acknowledge that this has taken some time, but we have now laid the final NPS. On other airports and reaching capacity, demand for flights is growing and will continue to grow. That is why, alongside the NPS, we also made the announcement of other airports being able to make best use of their existing capacity.

My Lords, I welcome this Statement. It has been a long time coming, and of course there is a long way to go yet; even if the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, is not right about the timescale, the development control order will not be completed until the early 2020s, according to the Statement, and by the time it is actually built it will probably coincide with us moving back into this place. I particularly support the encouragement of other airports, and in doing so I declare my interest as a board member of London Luton Airport. I think the Minister is aware that Luton is already seeking to make best use of its runways and to build additional capacity. I will ask about the planning system, because all this is putting a great deal of pressure on certain bodies, whether it is PINS or local planning authorities, and this Statement will exacerbate that. What assessment have the Government made of the capacity of the system to cope expeditiously with all the good stuff that could come from this?

I thank the noble Lord for his support. I was pleased to visit Luton Airport recently and hear about its exciting plans for its development. On the planning process, we absolutely believe that there is capacity to do this. The scheme promoter will consult on the proposals before submitting its application, which will give people a further opportunity to have their voices heard, and then, after the development consent application, the Secretary of State will consider it. However, we are satisfied that there is capacity to do that.

My Lords, the Statement makes clear to us that the airport will be built with private capital. Will the compensation package be met by the airport, and will the other infrastructure improvements which are necessary be met by the Government or by the promoters?

My Lords, I am happy to confirm that all those costs will be met by the developer: the compensation package and the cost of the development will all be privately financed. The provision of on-surface access and anything which is needed for the airport to expand will be met by the developer.

What discussions are the Government having with the devolved Administration in Cardiff as to the likely consequence for the land and nation of Wales of this massive development?

I am happy to confirm that I spoke to my opposite number in Wales yesterday, who absolutely welcomed this proposal. They are excited about it and are keen to see it go ahead, and I will visit him soon to discuss it further.

My Lords, how many more M25s, M42s, M6s and so on will we need to be built alongside this expanded Heathrow Airport just to get the passengers to the airport or from it?

My noble friend is right to point out that work on the roads will be needed, and there is some information out there already with the details of that. As I said before, where it is needed for airport expansion, the developer will pay for it. I also mentioned earlier the targets of increased public transport for people travelling to the airport. We have many investments in that already, and we expect that to increase.